“U-571″ helmer Jonathan Mostow and Nicolas Cage will develop a film at Warner Bros., with Mostow directing and Cage starring as a widowed father trying to raise his son.

The project originated when Mostow was approached by producer Alan Riche and Tony Ludwig, who had been trying to remake “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father,” the 1963 film that starred Glenn Ford as the father and Ron Howard as the son, which was later turned into the Bill Bixby TV series. Cage was attached to that project and when the producers sought out Mostow, he passed on the project, but offered enough suggestions on a way to do a single father saga that the producers and WB decided to shelve the remake idea. Instead, they decided to go forward with an original premise.

Though Mostow usually writes the films he directs, WB will hire a writer who’ll work with Mostow on the film. The pic will be produced by Riche and Ludwig, Mostow and his partner Hal Lieberman, with Cage’s Saturn shingle also involved in a production capacity.

The hope is for the film, which doesn’t have a title, to be the one Mostow directs next year. He’ll likely do another project first, with the Paramount project “Seconds” one of the aspirants. That film is produced by Mostow/Lieberman, which also just set Anand Tucker to write and direct “Cleopatra” at Universal. Meanwhile, Cage is next poised to star with Meryl Streep in the Spike Jonze-directed “Adaptation” and is also a possible participant in the Steve Norrington-directed adaptation of the Marvel Comics series “Ghost Rider” at Dimension. Mostow and Cage are repped by CAA; Cage is managed by Brillstein-Grey.

PREPPING A LAFFER: Director Paul Thomas Anderson, who has long professed an admiration for the comic stylings of Adam Sandler, is now ready to do something about it. Anderson, who has stuck to drama in his first three features — “Hard Eight,” “Boogie Nights” and “Magnolia” — has completed a script for his first comedy.

It’s untitled, top-secret and 90 minutes long, and he has offered the lead roles to Sandler and Oscar-nominated actress Emily Watson and is courting Sean Penn as well. Writing a comedy was no laughing matter to Anderson, who earlier this year did a writing stint on “Saturday Night Live” to learn how to write that kind of picture. The film is set up at New Line, where Sandler does regular business, including the recently wrapped “Little Nicky.” Despite that studio tie, sources stopped short of pronouncing this his next film.

Sandler has several prospects for his next slot, including “The Five Johnsons,” in which he plays multiple characters. None of the parties involved would comment. Sandler’s repped by Endeavor and Brillstein-Grey, Anderson by UTA and Watson by William Morris.

AN INTEL REVELATION: The Intel Corp. is forming a strategic partnership with Revelations Ent., the production company run by Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary. The alliance has to do with Revelations’ intention to adapt “Rendezvous With Rama,” the novel by “2001: A Space Odyssey” author Arthur C. Clarke, which David Fincher is attached to direct. But it will also lead to the formation of a subsidiary company devoted to the evolving field of digital filmmaking, which Intel, Freeman and McCreary say is where desktop publishing was a decade ago.

Intel’s foray into filmmaking comes as the result of its manufacture of computer workstations that allow for the editing of digital photography. “The Itanium processor-based workstations will be a work horse for designers who need increased performance for developing digital content including complex 3-D modeling, animation, scene rendering, video editing and special effects,” said Will Swope, veep and general manager of Intel Solutions Enabling Group.

Freeman said, “The current trend toward more digital effects in film will continue until digital cinematography is the norm, not the event that it is now, and Lori and I created Revelations with this kind of technological leap in mind.” Freeman and McCreary produced the just-opened “Under Suspicion,” starring Freeman and Gene Hackman, and the hope is that “Rendezvous With Rama” will be the film Fincher does after “The Panic Room.”

STARS — FOR A PRICE: Sam Henry Kass, who wrote and directed the indie pic “The Search for One-Eyed Jimmy” with a cast of Gotham-based actors including Michael Badalucco, Nick and John Turturro and Steve Buscemi, has hooked up with producer Peter McAlevey to shoot a sequel, which is attracting big names for small money.

“Joe Head Goes Hollywood” follows the misadventures of the title character Badalucco originated in the first film when he was a prop master on Gotham pics and before he was twice Emmy nommed for his work on “The Practice.” Kass, who parlayed that first film into writing gigs on “Seinfeld” and “Arliss,” went back behind the camera after Badalucco showed the pic to his “Practice” costar Lara Flynn Boyle, Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty, and was told by Nicholson they should do a sequel, which the actor volunteered to be in.

The participants pooled their cash, and while Nicholson won’t be in the pic after all, he’s a major plot point in the film as a group tries to raise bucks to mount a movie. “We’re down to our last $5,000 and bet Nicholson in a death pool because the 40 to 1 odds will get us what we need,” said Kass, who with McAlevey play themselves in the pic.

The mockumentary has gotten the participation of Lou Diamond Phillips, Carmen Elektra, Christian Slater, Andy Dick, MTV veejay Idalis, Joe Mantegna, Rod Steiger and a growing list of stars to play themselves in the largely improved pic. “We’ve called in every favor we could, but the list is growing and everybody is working for $75 a day, deferred until the film gets sold for distribution,” said McAlevey, explaining how to get big names in a full-length feature with a $12,000 budget.

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